Charlie in Brasil in 2013 – on tour | ISF Gymnasiade | ISF Executive meeting


Charlie on Tour

I have been very fortunate to be a member of the ISF (International School Sport Federation) during this past 18 months. Not least because the executive has had it’s meetings in such fascinating, beguiling, and interesting places. Think of it – Guatemala, Turkey, Israel and most recently Brazil have all hosted meetings of the ISF Executive!

Unlike my attendance at the other ISF executive meetings where I simply travel directly to and from the meetings, this time I (at my own expense of course) added in an eight- day tour just ahead of my arrival in Brasilia. I flew first into São Paulo, and then visited the cities of Florianopolis, Rio de Janerio and then Salvador. I managed to see a great deal in all of these places  – but also to discover and discuss much about Brazilian life and politics with some very helpful and knowledgeable Brazilian guides. What a big country! What a country of aspiration, of challenges, of colour and of diversity.  I do hope I will have the opportunity to return – and to see and learn more.

The ISF Gymnasiade

The ISF Gymnasiade (a multi-sport event) took place in Brasilia during the week before the ISF executive meeting. I arrived a couple of days into the Gymnasiade and managed to see a little of the swimming, the gymnastics and the athletics. These are “core sports” of the ISF Gymnasiade. In addition, judo, karate and chess where also staged in the Brasilia Gymnasiade. 34 countries competed in all or some of these sports.  Countries including some of the largest in the world viz. China, Russia and Turkey participated along with smaller countries such as Armenia, Estonia, Suriname and Luxemburg. The standard of training and competition organisation appeared to be very good. Though I became aware that in the gymnastics competition the floor equipment was not properly accredited. The weather was mostly very warm but sometimes very wet and windy which did not help some of the swimming events, which were held in an open-air pool. As ever the Gymnasiade will now be reviewed and reported on by ISF assessors for each sport – with comments to assist future event organisers.

For my part I was concerned that on the cultural day of the programme the athletics did not really allow enough rest time for the athletes. It was a very long day and I felt that the athletes should have had more rest time.

As ever in ISF events, it was moving to observe the friendliness and the interaction between the thousands of young people from so many countries. These days- the social media is facilitating a more sustained communication between athletes following the events. I anticipate that many young people will have found potential life -time friends from around the world.

With Brazil heading into an amazing couple of years – hosting and staging both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 – this was an opportunity to consider approaches to hosting a large-scale multisport event. During the Gymnasiade, many students from Brasilia volunteered to assist in the Gymnasiade operation. They were themselves very much part of the fabric of the event. A big “Thank You “ to everyone who made it all happen!

The ISF Executive Meeting (some personal observations)

The formal ISF executive meeting was held on 4-6December in the hotel Brasilia Palace. This is where we were all staying. The hotel – was designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer who also designed so many of the major public buildings in the city of Brasilia, the purpose- built capital of Brazil. Virtually all the members of the ISF Executive had, as I did, arrived some days earlier to watch the ISF Gymnasiade. Some of the ISF technical commissions were heavily involved during the Gymnasiade. And one of two of the ISF executive had been acting as Heads of delegation for their own country during the multi sport event. For me those days before the formal meetings commenced proved useful to informally discuss the various challenges facing countries and of course facing the ISF itself.

The meeting itself was welcomed by the President and Andrea Delpin (Italy). He gave the apologies of the vice president Reingard Anewanter (Austria) who retired at Christmas from her position in the Austrian Ministry of Education. All members of the committee had been sent a very wide range of papers ahead of the meeting. These papers covered:  the minutes of the ISF management committee; ISF event reports both from ISF assessors and the local organisers; event “bid” documents; and a number of “memorandum of understanding “papers that the ISF has signed or is about to sign; and a range of assorted papers on the ISF accounts, countries in membership, changes to the Constitution. With so many papers being considered during the meeting it was a bit of a challenge to keep up with some of these although the papers were all linked to the ISF executive committee meeting agenda.

Very early in the meeting the executive committee was asked to go to the new “memorandum of understanding” that we have signed between the ISF and sport Accord (formerly confederation of world sports governing bodies). The ISF is now an associate member of Sport Accord.

During Andrea Delpin’s Presidents report he drew attention to a meeting that had been held of the ISF marketing working group in Rio. The main focus of this meeting being on the Report from HAVAS – of which more later. Andrea also advised us all that all sports should try to do more to improve the opportunities for disability sport. And of course for all ISF sports to work towards memorandums of understanding with the appropriate world sports federations.

The Treasurer Guy Fusenig (Luxembourg) shared information about the payment of subscriptions. He shared with us the complete list of countries showing those that had paid their subscriptions and those that had not for the current year.

Jan Coolen – ISF Gen Secretary listed as a full range of meetings, events and conferences that he had attended – amongst those meetings HAVAS  (marketing company contracted to the ISF for the past three months), FISC (Catholic school games), and the Asian schools games. It was recognised by the committee that it is amazing how so much is happening in the name of ISF and yet there is only one full time employee. It is also of course also a worry!

Memorandums of understanding have now been signed between the ISF and:

 1: The International Olympic Academy (IOA)

2: Athens city council (this could lead to a special event which involving students from countries/cities that have hosted the Olympic Games)

3. World Sports Federations including:







And a number of others are currently in the “ pipeline”.

The clear intention is to clarify both what ISF is trying to achieve and how this might articulate with the relevant world sports organisation.

There is now a new addition of the general requirements for organising an ISF event. This new paper generated considerable argument and discussion it was a concern that the new document might undermine the position of the existing sports technical commission.

The first Asian school sports event  held in Hong Kong  featured swimming, athletics and rugby sevens.  Eight countries from Asia are now active members of the ISF. It seems that the Chinese Schools Sports Federation are considering an invitation to  the ISF executive to participate in a sports forum during the inaugural ISF basketball 3v3 event in Beijing on May 2014. 


It was agreed to accept the advice of Sport Accord on drug testing. Simply stated, the advice is that the ISF should consider the new WADA code 2015 during the year 2014. In 2015, start some testing (using the Adams system) at certain ISF events. In 2016, a more comprehensive anti-doping program with the focus on the Gymnasiade. I contributed that we will all have to be aware of the considerable costs associated with drug testing process.

ISF Development

The European Union ministers of sport  (100 of them) met in May.  The ISF where represented by Guy Fusenig (Luxemburg) and Laurent Petrynka (France). The main themes were: access to sport; promotion of PE time; integration; and anti-doping. The Executive welcomed this report and agreed that it was important for the ISF to maintain its visibility at similar high profile events.

A result of the new policy of linking with the major organisations is the success of the ISF application for funding from the European Erasmus+ project Pro Safe sports for Young Athletes (PSS). The project officially starts on 1 January and ends 30 June 20 15

Under the agenda heading of the marketing and communications working group the committee learned about the HAVAS report on the ISF. The focus of the report was on the ISF mission and the position of the ISF. Major areas for discussion were: developing the theme of ISF ‘we are school sport’ and of course the associated message of educating through sport as a mission.

Various building blocks to assist development will be important, notably:

  1. Developing the mission.
  2. Incorporating the mission into the website, ISF events and ISF communications.
  3. The new ‘memorandum of understanding” with the International Olympic Academy.
  4. The potential for a one off school sports forum to be staged in Chile in May 2014.

The current ISF logo is also likely to be changed. An ISF newsletter is also being considered. The appointment of an ISF  “community manager” to develop marketing communications into the wider school sport world – including managing the social network community. The aspiration being that the website would refocus on school students but would also have sections for ISF management as a present.

A commercial plan will be developed to attract potential sponsors.

It was then announced that a new sponsorship agreement has been signed with Kinder. The sponsorship will be worth 240,000 Euros and will run from 9 January 2014 to December 2017.

Event Bids

The executive were then required to consider the various bids to stage ISF events. In most cases this required a vote by the committee as we were usually considering more than one host for an event.

Final agreements included:

  • Badminton – Malta 2016
  • Cross-country – Hungary 2016
  • Futsall  – Croatia 2016
  • Handball- France 2016
  • Alpine skiing – Italy 2016
  • Table tennis – Israel 2016
  • Volleyball – Serbia 2016
  • 3v3 Basketball- Estonia 2016
  • Gymnasiade – Turkey 2016

Continental policy

There was some discussion about staging a continental policy meeting one day earlier than the general assembly meeting in Besancon Information is likely to be sent out about such a meeting you in January or February.

Miscellaneous papers

The executive also considered various papers and indeed presentations covering a range of issues: the Mexican obesity project and a possibility of a future ISF meeting in Mexico to consider this project.

We had an interesting presentation from a Florida University on a Global view of childhood obesity  using very practical ideas and terminology for young children.

Review of each of the 2013 ISF Events

Each event was discussed with those reports being presented by the relevant ISF technical commission and in some cases also by the local organising committee. These reports do assist in developing the guidelines for the future. In general events have been a successful. Sadly, there where also some real difficulties in 50% of the events.

New members countries

Applications for new membership of the ISF from Peru, the Dominican Republic and Georgia

I do hope that all these materialise and that the countries concerned can attend the General Assembly in Besancon, France in June 2014.

Finally, a reminder that this blog only contains my own personal observations of the meeting. The official minutes of the meeting will become available in due course.

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